Sunday, February 26, 2017

The end of the republic

United may have upped their game with illy coffee in their lounges but it is still hard to not feel as if we are living through the end of the republic. As expected, D.C. last night was almost like an occupied city, still uncertain if all the neoclassical buildings with their symmetrical shapes, triangular pediments and domed roofs now suddenly symbolize an autocracy. Yet, at Oyamel, the margaritas were still flowing in a dining room packed with the brightest and most talented of young professionals, as a stark reminder of America’s true potential.

After a morning walking around the Pentagon and the Arlington Cemetery, it is time to fly back across the Atlantic. Nav Canada is forecasting quite a bit of turbulence between Greenland and Iceland so I guess it will be a bumpy ride until we eventually touch down in Copenhagen tomorrow morning.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

The Chesapeake Bay State

Like last year at the ISA in Atlanta, you can tell that there is an overrepresentation of Europeans lining up for the very first sips of morning coffee.

Though I used to drive through occasionally back in 2008, this is my first real visit to Baltimore as such. Its Inner Harbor turned out to have all the hallmarks of contemporary urban waterfront renewal, even including an H&M store. Still, every time I return to the US I become less and less enthusiastic about late-modern capitalism. The extreme commodification and vulnerability as people have to juggle two or three jobs just in order to stay afloat in a rising sea of debt. At least to me, it is obvious that capitalism requires much greater measures of equality and social investments to function over time.

Oh well, soon time to head up to the Baltimore Convention Center for the first panel of the day.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New York Edition

When I used to live in the US, I remember coming back from Europe, picking up a rental car and driving out to the ocean in Jersey. Walking along the dunes of Sandy Hook was the perfect antidote to all those hours in the air.

Yesterday when we got into Newark we were completely exhausted. Having two kids who like to get up super early do not leave you with much in terms of reserves. At least we managed to take a walk down to Barnes & Nobles at Union Sq and have some Italian bar food at Eataly before collapsing in bed at 6.30 pm. Which of course meant that we at 1 am were wide awake and ready for breakfast. Luckily the New York Edition was able to find some Greek style yoghurt with granola and berries. 

Transoceanic

Four hours into the flight, Frithiof Viking is now more than halfway along its North Atlantic Track, slightly south of Greenland. Some time ago, Eddie and I read an article in Svenska Dagbladet Junior about Dagny, who at the age of 104, may well be the world’s oldest blogger. The article featured a timeline which marked her birth the same year that Titanic went down. This in turn led to a long conversation and many questions over the following days about ice bergs, the passing of time and the vastness of oceans.

With both kids back home, an intensive week now awaits in America. First New York tonight before taking the Northeast Regional Amtrak service down to Baltimore tomorrow morning for three days at the ISA convention. Afterwards, we hope to get one last night in Kalorama and a Sunday stroll in DC before flying back to Sweden on Sunday.

At the ISA, I am looking forward to chairing one panel on the governance of new environmental technologies, being discussant for one panel on “urbanization, technology and ecology” and then presenting my own paper in a panel featuring everything from the metaphysics of the Anthropocene to imagination as transformational capacity. As always, the programme is packed with tons of fascinating stuff including an old friend from HUFS who will present his paper on evolving US-led alliance structures in East Asia.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Vabruari

February around this time tends to be a shadowland. Swedish parents have even come up with a new word which combines the name of the month “februari” with the acronym for the temporary parental benefit paid by the government when you stay away from work to care for a sick kid (“vab”). True to the resulting portmanteau, this week both William and Eddie have been really sick, probably with HRSV. Meanwhile I have had tons of exams to mark and Anna has had her ISA-paper to finish before we can head over to the US on Tuesday.

Friday, February 03, 2017

The sun also rises

It was an early morning at Warsaw Chopin Airport, I think we were third in line for departure on runway 33/29, the two engines of our Brazilian built Embraer ERJ-175LR were still almost idling as we waited for a LOT Boeing 787 to depart for New York. I closed my eyes and allowed all the images from Chernobyl, Kiev and Vienna flood through my mind, leaving me with a warm afterglow. This is the world that is at stake, one of bridges rather than borders.

Today I read a surprisingly interesting interview with Alexander Dugin (unfortunately only available in Swedish) in Dagens Nyheter. It was surprising because towards the end the interviewer asks what will happen if Russia and America are no longer enemies in the Trump era and Russia no longer has someone to blame for its misfortunes. Dugin readily admits that this will force Russia to take responsibility and actually do something about its dismal economy and a “government that is thoroughly corrupt and in the hands of villains” as he puts it (!). These are indeed times when all that was solid is melting into air.

As for Trump, probably Paul Krugman is right: “Either he or the republic, in any meaningful sense, will be gone quite soon. I have a hard time seeing one year, let alone four”.

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